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NEWS | Dec. 16, 2019

Becoming a 'Pilot for a Day' with the 560th FTS

By Airman 1st Class Shelby Pruitt 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Four-year-old Jack Faught, got a taste of the ‘Chargin’ Cheetah’ pilot life Dec. 12 when he participated in Joint Base San Antonio’s "Pilot for a Day" program with the 560th Flying Training Squadron.

Created in 1994, Pilot for a Day, supports children with lifelong disabilities, providing them a once-in-a-lifetime experience in the life of a U.S. Air Force pilot.

During the day, participants are accompanied through various units on base packed with personalized pilot experiences.

“We consider Jack’s experience as Pilot for a Day to be a wonderful privilege,” said Austin Fraught, Jack’s father. “We appreciated the many customized details that were prepared for Jack, such as the special breakfast, flight suit with name patch, his name being put on a plane and the pilot-signed lithograph. Everyone made Jack feel extra special, from staff expecting our arrival in various buildings to a pilot saying hello to him when we were in the tower.”

Jack was diagnosed at one-month-old with cystic fibrosis, or CF, a genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections and limits the ability to breathe over time. CF also impacts other organs, including reproductive organs, pancreas, and digestive organs.

Although his parents say Jack is the epitome of a good patient with his reoccurring appointments and medications, 2019 hasn’t been too kind to him.

“He has been hospitalized four times, and underwent one surgery,” Austin recalls. “Having him healthy now and getting to experience the Pilot for a Day program was a bright spot in what has otherwise been a rough year.” 

Jack and Austin, along with Jack’s mother, Kyra, and his little brother, Brooks, happen to live directly within JBSA-Randolph’s flight landing path.

Because of the moderate traffic of T-38 Talon aircraft passing over their home, Jack had developed an excitement to see the pilots travel to and from base.

“I liked it!” exclaimed Jack.

His favorite part about the trip was not only being issued his very own flight suit and getting to reveal his name printed on a T-38, but also “flying the fake airplane” in the 558th Flying Training Squadron T-38 training simulator.

Kyra added, “It was such an amazing day. We can’t adequately put into words how grateful we are for the opportunity! There were so many details that made this day extremely special.”

The family expressed with gratitude that this experience is one they will fondly remember for the rest of their lives.